Researchers at University of California Davis have established, for the first time, a link between toxic substances that pollute the air and what causes them.
The research, announced Monday by the California Air Resources Board and the Electric Power Research Institute, holds the potential to better regulate sources of air pollution – an issue of great import to the a-plagued Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys.
“People have looked at direct emissions from sources – like taking things right out of tailpipes and out of other sources,” said Anthony Wexler, director of the Air Quality Research Center at UC Davis, who conducted the study with fellow UC Davis professor Kent Pinkerton.
“What distinguishes us is that we’re actually sampling right from the atmosphere in the way we breathe,” Wexler said. “Because you don’t put your mouth up against a tailpipe.”
Establishing a picture of what toxic brew is in the atmosphere and what sources it originates from, plus how those chemicals react, is key to fine-tuning environmental regulation, as well as the costs borne from it, said Will Barrett, policy manager with the American Lung Society.
“The findings are significant in that they underscore the importance of controls on things like wood burning and transportation sources of the most harmful particles that affect the Valley,” said Barrett.